The story of Joseph, the son of Jacob, (whose spiritual name was Israel) is one of the most fascinating and easy to read stories in the Old Testament of the Bible. The story begins in Genesis, Chapter 37, skips Chapter 38, but continues from Chapter 39 through the end of the book of Genesis. I now read it whenever I'm going through a bad time. It reminds me to realize that our human trials are temporary—and they are, usually, something we are going through, for something better on the other side.
It is one of the most triumphant stories in the bible, and, for those who have never read it, I'll summarize it here, leaving out a lot of good parts:
It started when Joseph was a youth, about seventeen years old, or so. Because he was the favorite son of his father, his jealous brothers sold him into slavery, to a caravan going to Egypt. In Egypt, he became a servant in the Egyptian household of Potiphar (Captain of the Guard, and officer in Pharoah's army). Soon, Joseph was accused of rape, by Potiphar's immoral wife. That landed him in prison. While in prison he became a dream-interpreter, and interpreted a dream for Pharoah. He predicted that the dream was telling Pharoah that a great famine was coming and to prepare for it. From this prediction, (which proved to be right) Pharoah put Joseph in charge of preparing the country for the famine.
Joseph soon became second in power, only to Pharoah. Joseph then saved Egypt from the seven-year famine. But the story goes on. In the end, Joseph was reunited with his brothers (who had sold him into slavery in the first place) and who were now coming to Egypt for food. Joseph was reunited with his father, and thus, he became the benefactor of all his brothers that had sold him into his eventful, sometimes really unpleasant, life. Yet, throughout one ordeal, after another, the story says, "…the Lord was with Joseph." (Genesis 39:21; New King James Bible Version).
Now, the Old Testament isn't always so cheery, but this account of Joseph's life is more thorough than most biblical accounts. If you've never read this story, it is well worth the time. It tells how Joseph triumphed because through every moment of his trying experiences, he believed in the invisible presence of God. In fact, each time his situation turned bad, his faith kicked in, and the 'bad' was always overturned—and it turned into something far bigger, and greater, after each bad time had come upon him.
I think that this happens more often than we care to admit, or even notice. In my youth, I felt that every lack of harmony that came my way, in this human experience, was something that should be stopped. I often felt it was evil, and I didn't know what I had done wrong to cause it. There seemed no purpose in it, no reason for it. Now, far beyond my youth, I have looked back and realized how I would never have moved forward, the way I did, had the 'bad patch' not come along. Every bad situation that I can now remember was a stepping stone to something better—but it never seemed so at the time.
My dad used say, (with humor) "Whatever doesn't kill us makes us stronger." I used to laugh at that old saying, but there is a lot of truth in it. It is the trials and tribulation in our experiences which do make us stronger, once we have found the way to surmount them, emotionally and creatively. In so many times of trials, like Joseph (but not so dramatically) I was better after the storm, than I would have been had the turmoil never happened.
We live in ruts, in this humanly, material experience; and so often, these ruts feel like comfort to us. We are familiar with things and people—so we don't want to leave them. We feel safe in our structured life—so we don't want any big changes. We don't want to move away, or have our friends move away—we fear loneliness. Yet, we can't see around corners, so we don't see the new things, and new places. We haven't yet met our new friends, and a few years from now, we won't want to leave them, either.
Many people who have lost their jobs, turned a corner to a new position, new career path, even a new life, just had to go through that cosmic 'moment' of fear first. Once through it, life becomes full of possibility and enjoyment again.
A recent friend of mine, who lived in another state, was miserably unhappy when she and her male friend broke up. Both had been divorced, but they had intended to be married. Then is all went wrong. Her life became very lonely. Her own children didn't need her anymore. Over several months she became more and more depressed.
Then, one day, she went to visit her son's family clear across the country. On her visit, she decided to rent a place there, for a couple of months. During that time, she met new friends and decided to move there permanently. But that's not all—after a visit, another couple of family members moved to the same location, having found jobs while they were visiting there. Within just a few months, my friend was surrounded by family, once again. Her life feels fuller than it ever was before, with both friends and family. She is now able to be with her grandchildren, new friends, and weather she just loves. Her social life is busier than it ever was before. Now, looking back, she is so happy she and her male friend had broken up. Her life was never this exciting before, back in the same town she grew up in.
The point I'm making is that so many old sayings are true, probably because they come from old experiences that can apply to everyone's life-journeys. The one that comes to mind in this story is, "You can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs."
This may not seem like a religious article, but it really is. So, here's the spiritual message in this one: In Genesis 39:21, it says, "But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison." In the entire account of Joseph, this was repeated several times, that the Lord was with him. This is what Joseph knew. And the same God who was with Joseph, and all his forefathers, is with each and every one of us, all the time. That infinite Creator is with us, just as with Joseph, so many thousands of years ago. God never leaves any one of us, ever, because God never leaves His creation, of which we are a part.
God doesn't leave, and the divine, infinite one is always connected to us. God is our Source. Like a sunbeam or moonbeam is connected to their source, we are connected to ours. We've never been alone with our troubles, anywhere we've been in this human experience. God is Spirit, and Spirit is invisible to the physical senses—but don't let that fool you. We are each connected to that infinite Intelligence, Wisdom, Love, and Creativity of God. Whatever we need humanly, God loves us and wants to give us what will make us happy, no matter what we think we should have in life.
But, having said that, we must realize: we can't have an omelette without breaking eggs, either. Change for the better, higher, life, with more joy in it, doesn't come from leaving us alone, in some comfortable, but boring, half-baked life experience. A few eggs (changes) have to occur, before we can often go on to what is a better earthly experience.
The story of Joseph is great on this point: he never gave up his belief that God existed, loved him, and was always a good Spirit. Because he never wavered in that belief, his divine Source was able to work freely in his human life experience, without hindrance. Joseph HAD to go to Egypt to save all those people from that seven-year famine, which would have wiped out thousands. Joseph HAD to be in Potiphars house, to get in that prison with its connection to the Pharoah. Joseph HAD to be thrown in that prison for something, or he would never have been found by Pharoah to interpret Pharoah's dream and save the people of several countries.
SO, PLEASE GET THIS: Every ordeal that Joseph encountered in his experience was something that met God's plan of good, for thousands and thousands of people. Since Joseph wasn't able to perceive God in a completely spiritual, thorough way, he simply had to TRUST the Almighty that he would be taken care of rightly, no matter what negative, human situations came his way.
Also see that Joseph's faith in the unseen Intelligence of God, was required of him, or he would have never been chosen for such a life experience. Just as with Christ Jesus' ability to heal the flesh to the point of resurrection was necessary for him to be the one chosen to be the savior of humanity, God knew who could go through the physical death process and rise again because of his comprehension of spiritual, rather than material being.
So, Joseph had his own task to do. We each have our spiritual mission, if we accept it. It's not always easy, but God never leaves us under the rule of the carnal mind. We are all God's own children. We are spiritual beings, outgrowing the flesh, or our belief that we were ever, really, fleshly, finite beings. Spirit's children are what Christ Jesus was trying to show us in the resurrection. God's children do not die, and we are only God's children. Material existence is a state of self-deception; but, thankfully, we've always been sent the ones who keep guiding us, upward and onward, until we finally get it.